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Chinn: Survey of Modern and Contemporary Lit

ENG 201: Survey of Modern and Contemporary Literature, 1892-2014


Instructor: Lisa Chinn
DESCRIPTION: What does it mean to say that modernism started in 1892? In this class,
we will explore periodization to understand how twentieth century literature is
conceptualized in the twenty-first century. We will also explore, through Tretheways Native
Guard, how a historical moment can produce new legacies in contemporary America. We
will read the novel City on Fire for the last three weeks of class to reflect back upon the
twentieth century in a contemporary setting and to question the status of literature as
compared to other long-form media, like long-form television. We will use the anthology to
examine depth and breadth of literary canonization and the paucity of works that naturally
occurs when editing an anthology. This class will be a combined lecture and seminar style.
On Mondays, I will deliver a lecture and one Wednesdays and Friday we will have
discussion.
COURSE OBJECTIVES: You will be able to close read a poem, paying attention to the
method of analysis while learning to think through high-level analytic problems. Through
such analysis, you will be able to construct coherent and persuasive arguments in short
papers, blogs, and a final research paper. This course also teaches you to interact with
various literary forms. This course grounds you in literary history, historical movements of
modernism, literary terminology, and various schools of poetry and prose. You will gain
considerable knowledge of effective writing techniques, including argumentation, using
evidence from the text and from outside sources. You will gain considerable knowledge of
the proper use of academic sources. And finally, you will be able to articulate your own
thoughts and opinions through class discussions and online blogs.
REQUIRED TEXTS:
-The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Vol. 2: 1865-present. Baym, Nina, et al., eds.
-Native Guard, Natasha Tretheway
-City on Fire, Garth Risk Hallberg
-assorted texts provided on e-reserves or Blackboard
ASSIGNMENTS:
1) Two 3-4 page close reading assignments: throughout the semester, you will have two
close-reading assignments that will prepare you for a longer research project at the end of
the semester.
2) blog posts: once a week, you will post a 250-word summary of one of the texts that we
read for the week. Once you have 250 words of summary, you will then add another 100
words in which you will give a short analysis of the work.
3) Research paper: a longer, 8-10 page paper will be due at the end of the semester. There
will be components of this paper that will be due much earlier. The other components
include: an annotated bibliography and a draft of the paper, due two weeks before the end of
the semester.